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The increasing age and maturity of our municipal and urban trees, as well as pests, diseases and disasters, has resulted in the removal of large numbers of trees. The removal of large trees from the aging or damaged urban canopy produces an estimated 200 million cubic yards of wood residue annually. The majority of this residue, or waste stream, becomes chips and is either burned or composted, releasing carbon into the atmosphere. Many of the logs that get produced can be poorly manufactured and may not meet the needs of local processors. Even with proper manufacturing, it can be difficult to locate local processors or yards interested in the small amount of logs an individual business or community may produce. As a result of all these factors, much of the value that is contained within these mature trees is not realized when they are removed.

Awareness of wood waste issues has become even more pressing as forest health crises such as the emerald ash borer, sudden oak death, and the Asian longhorned beetle threaten both rural and urban forests. Yet, even when major forest threats aren’t magnifying the problem, municipal forestry departments and independent tree service companies struggle with the high costs of transportation and disposal of such wood or finding wood processors to take the logs.

Merchandising urban wood to its highest and best use enables municipalities to better control the costs associated with the management of their urban canopy

  1. significantly reducing waste disposal costs
  2. producing sustainable local lumber for municipal projects and for local craftsmen
  3. reinforcing the renewable and sustainable qualities of working forests
  4. sequestering carbon and
  5. building network connections between producers and end-users that preserves the value of forests and forest products.

The benefits of merchandising urban wood to its highest and best use extends to the communities themselves: providing sustainable local lumber produced and used within the community, promoting the awareness of the sustainable management of trees in the community, and supporting local businesses synergy and niche market development.

Funding for this project was provided in part through Urban & Community Forestry Grant from the North Carolina Forest Service, Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, in cooperation with the USDA Forest Service, Southern Region. NCFS Urban and Community Forestry NCFS Shield
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